News Flash: Kathy Lawyerson is Annette’s lucky winner! Congrats, Kathy, and please check your email.
Edith here, blissfully alone in a Cape Cod cottage for a week writing my brains out. And delighted to welcome my good friend (and sometimes retreat-mate) Annette Dashofy back to the blog! She has a new book out that I can’t wait to read. One lucky commenter here will win a signed copy of Death by Equine!
Veterinarian Jessie Cameron agrees to fill in for her mentor, Doc Lewis, at Riverview Racetrack so he can take a long-overdue vacation. When he’s tragically killed by one of his equine patients the night before he’s supposed to leave, Jessie quickly suspects the death is anything but accidental. Her search for the truth is thwarted by everyone from well-meaning friends to the police, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Undaunted, she discovers layers of illegal activities and deceit being perpetrated by the man she thought of as a father figure, creating a growing list of suspects with reason to want Doc dead. Too late, she realizes that her dogged quest for the truth has put her in the crosshairs of a devious killer desperate to silence her. Permanently.
You Should Have Been a Vet
One night many many years ago, I received a frantic phone call from one of my horsey friends. She thought her mare was dying. Her vet was out on another emergency call and couldn’t get there for over an hour. In tears, she asked if I could come over and wait with her. Of course, I went.
As soon as I arrived at my friend’s barn, I pressed a thumb into her mare’s gums to observe how quickly they pinked back up. The capillary refill time was normal. Having no stethoscope with me, I pressed an ear to the mare’s belly and noted the absence of bowel sounds, something that should always be present with a horse. I quickly diagnosed colic. Had I thought about it earlier, I’d have brought the syringe filled with banamine that I kept in my refrigerator. Lacking the drug, I suggested my friend and I take turns walking the mare until the vet got there.
Once he did, he pressed a thumb into the mare’s gums. Then he listened to her gut with his stethoscope. “It’s colic,” he proclaimed and immediately injected her with banamine. Shortly afterwards, the mare passed manure and was fine.
My friend was ecstatic. “You should’ve been a vet!” she said.
Those words, spoken on a stressful night, stuck with me and were a seed that eventually sprouted in the form of Dr. Jessie Cameron, DVM. Jessie first traveled from my mind to the page back in 2005, well before Zoe Chambers and Pete Adams appeared in my subconscious.
I’d certainly done enough minor veterinary procedures on my own animals. Neighbors who knew I kept that syringe of banamine in my fridge (because I once had a horse who colicked on a regular basis) called on me when one of their foals suffered from the ailment. Still, I was not a vet, but I figured I had a good base from my experience to write about one.
Another friend had once gotten me onto the backside of a local racetrack because I had a horse with a mystery lameness. The racetrack vet had lots of experience with lameness and had the diagnostic equipment to determine the cause of my riding horse’s on-again-off-again limp.
An old well-known and well-loved veterinarian was tragically killed by one of his equine patients. It was horrible. The man was nearing retirement and apparently trusted the horse too much. Or maybe he simply wasn’t paying attention. Or both. It was another incident that imprinted on my mind…and is likely part of the reason I decided against being a vet!
Three separate events over a wide number of years, which rattled around in my memory, gelled into a character, a location, and a plot.
Was it that easy? Oh, heck no. I did a lot of research, picked my veterinarian’s brain numerous times, observed and assisted on lots of procedures, and worked as a groom at the racetrack. But the genesis of my latest book definitely goes back to that night in my friend’s barn and her words: You should’ve been a vet.
Fellow writers, have you had snippets from life that stuck with you until they ended up in a story? Even decades later? And readers, have you ever had a moment when someone’s words made you consider a different path? Did you follow it? I’ll send a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter
Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the multi–Agatha Award nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. Her latest release, a standalone, is Death by Equine, about a veterinarian at a second-rate thoroughbred racetrack seeking the truth about her mentor’s mysterious death. She and her husband live on ten acres of what was her grandfather’s dairy farm in southwestern Pennsylvania with their very spoiled cat, Kensi.